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Both the following two expressions from my text book 完全マスター聴解N1 are explained as とても(高い/人が多かった):

高いなんてもんじゃないよ

人が多かったのなんのって

Could someone explain what they are based on/where they come from because although I can try rememeber them as colloquialisms, they ought to based on some conventional grammar.

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  • 1
    Another on similar lines: ~もいいところ
    – Hyperworm
    Sep 21, 2012 at 17:03
  • 1
    @Hyperworm: Do you have an example? I am interested to know. Tx
    – Tim
    Sep 21, 2012 at 18:25
  • なんて usually indicates contempt, a low degree.
    – firo
    Jun 30, 2023 at 8:20

1 Answer 1

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The first sentence could be expanded to

高いなんてもんじゃないよ。むちゃくちゃ高いんだよ。
It's not (just) huge. It's humongous.

and the first part would be written as

高いというものじゃないよ。


As for the second sentence, separating the sentence as

人が多かったの 何の って

the 何の is used to repeat the structure of the first part, but could be replaced with anything, indicating that the speaker can't even say there were many people, because "many" isn't enough to describe the situation. The って is used to strengthen the speaker's feeling about what he said, as he is quoting himself in a way, cf.

絶対危険だって

To compare the two phrases, let's take the sentence

このホテルは汚かった。

Turning this into

  • 汚かったなんてもんじゃない。
  • 汚かったのなんのって。

the first means that the hotel was extremely dirty and the word "dirty" would not be strong enough to express just how dirty it was, whilst the second means that it was dirty, ugly, etc. and no single word would be sufficient to express the various ways in which it was unpleasant.

A related phrase is

楽しい ったらありゃしない

which comes from

楽しい と言ったら、有りはしない

and also means, very roughly とても, in this case "it was as great as it could possibly have been".

P.S. This use of 何{なん} is the same as seen in

電話なり何なり

(thanks, Tim).

If 何 is already used, one uses かん instead, as in

何だかんだ
何でもかんでもない

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